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Minister Flanagan Addresses Dáil Éireann on Topical Issues Debate on Aleppo

Minister Flanagan Addresses Dáil Éireann on Topical Issues Debate on Aleppo

Minister says that:

-        Irish people are appalled by the assault on the people of Aleppo 

-        the use of military force in Aleppo is in clear violation of international law

-        Ireland’s concerns have been directly conveyed to the Russian authorities 

-        only a “Syrian-owned and Syrian-led” political solution will be viable and sustainable 

-        he has today announced additional funding for NGOs bringing total contribution to €62M


Minister Flanagan’s Address to Dáil Éireann

Check Against Delivery

I wish to thank the deputy for proposing this motion.

As I have outlined in previous public statements and as the Taoiseach stated in the House on Tuesday, as a nation we have been shocked and outraged at the appalling scenes of suffering from Aleppo that we see daily on our TV screens and in newspapers.  I want to thank Deputy Griffin for giving me the opportunity to set out in greater detail the position and actions of the Government in response to the horrifying situation in Aleppo.

The conflict in Syria began over popular unrest caused by the corruption, violence and lawlessness of the Assad regime. At its core, the conflict remains centred on this one issue – can the Syrian people be to free choose their leaders or will the regime’s persistent campaign of mass murder, torture and sexual violence subjugate millions of Syrians into accepting his continued reign of terror?

From the outset, Ireland has been clear that we believe that this is a crisis of political legitimacy and that only a political solution will be viable and sustainable.  We are clear that this must be “Syrian-owned and Syrian-led”.  We have also been consistent in condemning the pattern of systematic violence against civilians, in which 100,000s have been killed and millions more wounded or forced to flee violence and terrorism. We have called for the protection of all civilians from military force and terrorism and the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance to populations in need and full accountability on behalf of the victims of crimes under international law.

It is clear from a wide range of reports that the Assad regime has been overwhelmingly responsible for the deaths of Syrians since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011.  The Commission of Inquiry established by UN Human Rights Council has reported findings of evidence that the Assad regime may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of military force against the besieged population of Aleppo are clear violations of international law. The use of bunker-penetrating bombs, cluster munitions and barrel-bombs against civilians under siege is an assault against all morality and humanity.

Ireland’s concerns have been directly conveyed in the clearest terms to the Russian authorities at my direction.  On behalf of the Irish people, I urge Russia to use all its influence in Syria to end these inhumane actions against a defenceless civilian population.

Ireland has repeatedly called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court. The suffering of the besieged population in Aleppo underline both the urgency and importance of ensuring accountability for those responsible for these actions.

The attacks have rightly appalled people across Ireland and around the world. I want to acknowledge the important moral stand taken by Irish people in supporting NGOs working to assist the Syrian people, as well as those making a stand for peace such as that which took place at the GPO last weekend.

Finally, having set out my political approach as Foreign Minister, Members will be aware that as a Government we have placed huge emphasis on doing what we can to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, through provision of humanitarian aid.  As I announced earlier today, I have approved €1.5 million for the ICRC for their work inside Syria and €1 million to UNWRA for Palestinian refugees affected by the Syria crisis which, combined with our recent disbursement of €5M to the Turkey Refugee Facility, brings our total contribution to the Syrian crisis to €62M since 2012. By the end of 2016, we will have provided €67M for the relief of the Syrian people.

I will be discussing the situation in Syria with my EU colleagues at the next Foreign Affairs Council, and focusing in particular on how to support the EU’s Humanitarian Initiative on Aleppo.

This morning I had a lengthy discussion with Commissioner Stylianides about the EU’s extensive provision of humanitarian relief for the Syrian people.  Commissioner Stylianides has shown great leadership and the scale of EU aid is enormous and critically required.  We also discussed the importance of addressing the root causes of migration, a topic I addressed in some detail in my address to the UN General Assembly this year.

On a personal level, I want to make mention of the Syrian people who have recently settled in my home town of Portlaoise. They have recounted to me their terrible experiences in Syria and their fears for their families, friends and neighbours, indeed for their country.  I am heartened by the warm welcome they have experienced in Co. Laois, so far from their beloved homeland.


Press Office

6 October 2016